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Jawonio Opens Lego Resale Store in Valley Cottage

Jawonio Opens Lego Resale Store in Valley Cottage

Valley Cottage has a colorful new addition to its retail scene in the form of a Lego resale store called Brick It Again. The shop is the brainchild of Jawonio, a Rockland County-based nonprofit that works to support the independence and well-being of people with disabilities, special needs, and behavioral health challenges.

Jawonio CEO Randi Rios-Castro came up with the idea when she saw her nephews playing with Legos. 

“I thought, ‘What happens to all these Legos after they finish using them?’” she said. 

Castro had previously worked serving on the board for an organization called Yes She Can, which has an American Girl Doll resale store of a similar nature. 

“I thought we could do something like that with the Legos,” she said. “They’re such a big product, they’re widely popular. Why can’t we resell them?” 

The agency received a $300,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to set up shop. Brick it Again directly aligns with Jawonio’s mission, as it will employ people with disabilities and teach them the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. 

“We’re all about helping people to maximize their independence, and this is definitely in line with us doing that,” Castro said. “We’ll be employing the people with disabilities and supporting them in their employment role in this store.” 

Currently, five of the store’s six employees are people with disabilities. Castro says the store anticipates hiring up to eight individuals with disabilities. 

Part of the store’s success will hinge on community engagement. Brick it Again relies on donations for its supply of new and used Legos, and so far people have answered the call to recycle their unused hoard. 

“The community has been really great in terms of bringing in products,” Castro said.

Brick It Again organizes some Legos by category, and others by color

Brick It Again employees help collect donations, wash and sort Legos, and then repackage and sell them. Some Lego products are sold in sets, while others go in bulk, with the option to buy specific colors and types of Legos. The store is not officially partnered with Lego, but it is an authorized reseller through the organization ToyHouse LLC. But buying used Legos can mean cheaper prices overall for potential shoppers (as well as a green way to collect them). 

In March this year, the store celebrated its grand opening, with music, games, and of course, Legos. Over 50 people were in attendance, according to Castro. “We had a really great turnout,” she said. “They’re [the community is] really excited that we’re doing this project and putting people to work.” 

Moving forward, the store hopes to host birthday parties and other events, as well as prevocational training for the community to gain work-related skills.  

“Because we have the store, we have the ability to touch [people with disabilities] at different points on that path,” Castro said. “Doing the prevocational activities, we’re teaching them the work-related skills that they will need to be employed — whether or not they’re employed in our store or we help them to find employment in other retail spaces.” 

For now, Castro encourages people in Rockland County and beyond to donate their Legos for a good cause. The store will continue to rely on donations to keep its supply levels consistent.  

“There are a lot of people that have all these Legos sitting in their basements that are collecting dust, and we can put them to good use,” Castro said. 

Brick It Again 

7 Lake Ridge Plaza, Rte. 303, Valley Cottage, NY  

Open Wednesday-Sunday, 10am-7pm 

Photos by Andrea Swenson

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